Kāpostu sacepums (Cabbage Gratin)

Cabbage Gratin

One day, not so very long ago, my husband and I sat in our flat in Liepāja staring at a cabbage.

It was a very nice cabbage, a Savoy, as a matter of fact.

Cabbage is a staple in Latvian cooking; we’d just finished a head of “China” cabbage (similar to Napa) a couple of days prior but we were running out of things to do with it. We’d had cabbage salads and stir-fried cabbage and cabbage leaves and cabbage wraps. Now what?

It’d been a rather cold and soggy winter day, so we knew we wanted something hot. Preferably baked so we could have a nice warm kitchen to go with it.

How I miss that kitchen. Not all of it, of course, the fridge is too small for this American and the gas burners didn’t always heat evenly, but there was a balcony to store food on in the winter and plenty of cupboard space. One of his cousins in Rīga who does kitchen remodels did the layout and planning; I’m hoping to get him to help with the layout when we buy a home.

Ahem. Where was I? Oh right, cabbage.

I don’t remember now where we found this recipe originally or even what search terms we used to find it. Actually, I’m not even sure this is based on one recipe — I have a tendency to pull up two or three (even four) that have components I like then create a recipe from them.

What I do know is that it’s really, really good on a cold day. It smells wonderful – redolent with caraway seed and cabbage. It may not be an original Latvian recipe, but it sure does fit the bill. Give it a try, I believe you won’t be disappointed.

Ready for Baking

Cabbage Gratin [printable recipe] [latviski]

Serves 4

  • 4 cups cabbage, shredded
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 ounces cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • salt, pepper
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced, or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • nonstick spray

Preheat oven to 400F.

Toss cabbage with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon or so of water, cover and microwave for 4 minutes. Saute shredded carrot in olive oil with a bit of salt, until it begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Beat together eggs and egg white, then add milk, chopped green onions, 1 ounce of shredded cheese, caraway, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Spray an 8″x8″ baking dish with nonstick spray (or rub inside well with butter). Combine cabbage, carrots and egg mixture in the dish well. Top with remaining cheese and parsley.

Bake uncovered at 400F for 35 minutes. When done, it should be browned and a knife inserted in the center will come back cleanly.

Notes:

  1. It doesn’t really matter what cheese you use as long as it’s a good melting cheese. I usually use an Italian blend or mozzarella/Parmesan.
  2. 4 cups of cabbage works out to be roughly one baby head of green cabbage or less than half of a large head. Next time I make this, I need to remember to weigh it — weight would be much easier to use in this recipe!
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